Pancakes with Fruit

What to Expect: Preparation Tips for Beginners

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

I remember my first race like it was yesterday. Even though it’s more like 100 years ago now.   I was nervous.  A planner by trade, the more compulsive my pre-race checklist was the better I felt.  Happily I’ve relaxed a little bit over the years and I am a little less OCD with my pre- and post-race rituals but I’ve identified those things that made my race weekends easier and prevent me from totally stressing on race day.  Or from forgetting my bibs….

Thursdays:  I generally take it easy on the bike if I am racing on Saturday.  1.5-2 hrs easy spinning but no hard efforts.  Lots of hydration.

Fridays: On the bike – openers.  An easy ride that includes a few short, intense efforts to “open” the legs and get your heart rate up briefly. The idea is to go hard long enough to prime your legs but not to induce any fatigue.  Drink LOTS on the bike and off.

Pack your race bag early:  I’m a compulsive over-packer.  Unless it’s 90+ degrees in July, I’ve generally got riding gear for all weather permanently dwelling in my race bag; figure out what you’re going to need. But getting it done early reduces stress! Here’s my list of basics:

  • USAC License
  • Helmet
  • Shoes
  • At least 2 kits per day (jerseys, bibs, sports bra, socks)
  • Rain jacket
  • Long sleeve thermal jersey
  • Arm Warmers / Knee Warmers
  • Gloves (full fingers and half)
  • Spare Tubes
  • Mini Tool Kit
  • Mini First Aid Kit
  • Hat (for when the helmet is off)
  • Change of clothes
  • Action Wipes (in case you can’t shower right away after your race)
  • DZ Bliss Chamois Creme
  • Sunscreen (be sure you’ve got broad spectrum!)
  • Embrocation (just in case!)
  • Asthma Inhaler
  • Extra Safety Pins
  • Snacks (Clif Bars, Clif Blocks and gels)

When you really need to fuel-up, whole grain pancakes are a great start!

Make your bottles – in nice clean bottles.  I like to mix my sports drinks the night before and put them in the freezer.  Same with water bottles. Make enough bottles for your warm up, race and cool-down

Food:  I’m a big fan of peanut butter sandwiches (on whole wheat of course!) for post-race food.  Protein is essential in the recovery process plus it’s pretty easy on the stomach and packs well.  I’m also a BIG fan of Salty Oatmeal Cherry Cookies after my race.  The salt is delicious and the hemp protein and oats are great post-race nutrition in quick pick-me up style.  I also like to throw in some bananas and cokes (I know, I know – it’s bad for you but let me tell you, my last road race had an on-the-road high temp of 116 degrees.  An icy cold coke felt like a life saver after that race….)

Load your car:

  • Trainer for warm-up / cool-down
  • Pump
  • Race Wheels / pit wheels / trainer wheel (or at least trainer skewer)
  • Bike  (cleaned, lubed, and given a good looking over first!)

Phew.  The hard stuff is done.  Relax.  Drink some more.  Eat a good dinner but don’t get all experimental – probably NOT the time to try the Puffer Fish….

I like to eat nice clean foods.  Pasta, veggies, salad.  Or quinoa with grilled vegetables.  The times I’ve strayed from the plan, I’ve regretted it.  I’m not much of a meat eater but the night before my last road race I went out with a friend for dinner – and decided to try the Bison Burger.  BIG mistake.  I thought it would be okay – lean and all that.  Suffice to say I won’t do that again – sticking to what I know, the tried and tested.

Put your legs up.  Relax.  Make sure you know where you’re going the next day and how long it takes to get there, where they want you to park.  Read the Tech Guide, know the race day schedule so there are no unpleasant race day surprises.  Drink more.  Go to bed early.

Saturday:  Race Day!!


Eat a good breakfast.  I have three race day breakfasts I alternate between depending on the race.  If it’s a short criterium I like whole wheat toast and scrambled eggs.  Eggs are super for easy digestion and lasting energy.  Alternatively I like Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats with walnut bits, dates and a little brown sugar.

For longer road races I try to load up on calories a bit more.  7 Grain or 10 Grain Pancakes with Blueberries and real maple syrup.  Scrambled eggs on the side.

Then it’s off to the races.  Leave yourself plenty of time for getting lost, for parking, for pit stops on the road.

Park, say hullo to your friends.  Go to registration and get your number.  Bring your license with you.  Be sure you ask what side they want your number pinned on.  Don’t be the person on the line that holds up the start of your race because your number is upside down or pinned on the wrong side.

Drop your wheels in the wheel pit or wheel truck.

Kit up and, working back from start time, warm up.

If you can, get out and pre-ride the course.  Look for bumpy spots in the pavement. How’s the wind blowing?  Roll through the turns at speed.  Get comfortable with the course.  Be optimistic, know where you want to start your sprint 😉

If it’s a short fast crit, you want to go to the line nice and hot.  The shorter the race, the longer and more intense your warm-up.  Get your heart rate up.  Get sweaty.  I prefer trainer warm-ups.  Safe, reliable.   For longer road races your warm-up doesn’t need to be as long or as intense, but you still want to go to the line ready to go.  For TTs [time trials] – where you are going as hard as you can for the entire duration of the race I like a long steady warm-up, opening you anaerobic pathways and getting HR up to race pace so your body is ready to go when you start. Drink the whole time!

RACE!  You’ll feel like you need to go to the bathroom a million times.  Leave yourself time for that before your start time. Have a gel.  Drink more.  Line up.  Make sure you listen to the officials on the line.  Often they have really useful things to say – like at which point in a crit there are no more free laps – or where there are dodgy sections on a road race.

Race your heart out.

After your race.


Drink.  Get some food in you as soon as your stomach can handle it – hopefully with some protein in it.

If you were in it, check the posted results.  Once posted there is an official protest period – so if they’ve totally messed up and you KNOW you finished second but they show you 10th or DNF make sure you talk to the officials right away.  Once the protest period closes it gets a whole lot harder to get the results changed.  But also be reasonable.  If you are SURE you were 49th and they have you scored 51st ask yourself if it really matters.  There’s no prize money for you. There are no upgrade points for you. Live to race another day.

Cool-down.  Don’t just stop.  Ride a cool down.  Take it nice and easy.  Small chain ring.  Roll those legs. Your body will thank you on Sunday.

CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES.  Nothing is ickier than people who hang out in a sweaty chamois all day.  Bad things will happen.  Saddle sores.  Worse.  Grab yourself some Action Wipes get yourself de-saltified and cleaned up.  Put on a nice, clean dry set of clothes and enjoy the rest of the day spectating.  Drink more.  Have fun.

About The Author
Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
Share this article:

Burning Matches

by Doug Carr in Train With Grain, Triathlons

I did an impromptu race-recap with a new athlete the other night, as she explained how things went for her first Olympic distance duathlon. For the most part the race went as planned and expected. However, there was one frustration during her bike leg that I thought I might share with others, who’ll no doubt have or will experience the same thing, so they’ll know what they can do to mitigate it. It happens to do with the Drafting Zone (DZ). This has to be one of the areas new athletes probably fear the most, as penalties for violating it can be tough to swallow and even tougher to protest. Of all the rules that I can think of, DZ violations are probably the easiest to commit because of the gray area of interpretation (estimation of distance) by the offender vs. the course marshal. In the interest of fairness, course marshals might err to the lenient side, but this makes the protest even harder

U.S.A. Triathlon (USAT) sanctioned races have very specific rules regarding drafting, because they are not draft-legal events. A certain amount of distance must be maintained between you and the bike in front of you, depending on whether you’re racing as an elite or age-group athlete. This distance is supposed to eliminate the advantage of riding in another athlete’s slipstream as they break the wind for you. Most races, for consistency, choose to adopt the USAT Competitive Rules as their “Rules of the Day.” It is always your responsibility to be familiar with all rules in use for any particular race. For this explanation, I will be using distances that equate to age-group athletes and fall in the subheading 5.10 Position Fouls, under Cycling Conduct in Article V. The DZ in this case is 7 meters long and 2 meters wide. Position fouls penalties can range from 2 minutes added to your total time, to complete disqualification.

The Situation: As she rode the bike course, our 34 y/o fit-female began to close in on a 23 y/o male. Can you see where this is going yet? She decided she could make the pass safely within the 15 second allotted time for avoiding a penalty. She made the pass, and proceeded to maintain pacing. Soon thereafter, the male athlete came along and passed her in a similar fashion.* She dropped out of his DZ, only to then find herself needing to pass again, due to his pace slowing. However, as she attempts to make the pass, he speed up in an effort to keep her from passing in the allotted time. She must then drop completely out of his DZ – three bike lengths back – before attempting to pass again. This goes on for quite some time, until she is able to pass (and drop) him for good on a hill. Unfortunately, during this scenario, she lost mental focus and became frustrated with having to deal with his conduct. Frustration causes stress levels to rise, raised stress levels cost unnecessary energy expenditure. She took her head out of the game and was forced to respond to his actions rather than ride her own race plan. There’s nothing in the Competitive Rules to address his conduct. She asked me what solutions or options were recommended short of trying to get the attention of the Course Marshals.

The Solution: Burn A Match! First, be very safe about this by making sure ALL overtaking traffic is clear. At this point you’ll also need to confirm that the rider being passed isn’t about to pass another rider and abruptly come out around them into your intended pass. You get the penalty if you cause an accident. You’ll also need to make sure there will be a place for you to re-enter the “traffic flow” after the pass.  Start by coming straight up their wheel line to make the pass. This will keep you somewhat “hidden” both visually and aurally. In essence they won’t see or hear you coming until moments before the pass. Come out to their left at the last second by at least 1 meter, go as hard as you can to make the pass and continue 20 – 30 meters out in front of this person, then settle in to maintain your pacing plan. Hopefully, that’s the last you’ve seen of them. For more on Burning Matches, watch this short explanation video by Robbie Ventura of the CycleOps Company.

I’ve confirmed this with USAT’s Rules Director as the best method for handling this type of conduct. For complete USAT Rules (PDF) go to

For the new athlete, the DZ can be difficult to discern while positioned directly behind another rider. The average bike is 65″ long from leading edge of front wheel, to trailing edge of rear wheel. It’s safe to estimate three bike lengths from your front tire’s leading edge, to the trailing edge of the tire in front of you. Practice will make this easier and will keep you out of the penalty box for DZ fouls. In Ironman events, there are actually Penalty Tents on the bike course that your are required to pull into upon receiving a penalty from a course marshal. Upon arrival and racking your bike, officials hand you a stopwatch and start your penalty-time count down. From there, you get to watch all the people you may have passed, ride on by. The tents are affectionately known as “Ironman County Jail.”

So how big is your matchbook, and do you know when to use it?

Doug Carr

*This is what I call “leap frogging”. I pass you and you pass me, etc. Over a long race with two similarly matched athletes it’s not only unavoidable, it can also be enjoyable if the both athletes like to encourage each other.

About The Author
Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
Share this article:

What You Need to Know About Open Water Swimming

by Doug Carr in Train With Grain, Triathlons

The very thought of open water swimming is intimidating to a lot of people, but as a triathlete, it’s a fact that the majority of races are held in bodies of open water. Depending on the part of the country you live in, early season races held in pools, come to an end when the signs of summer start to appear. So what makes it so intimidating? Well, for one, there’s no line on the bottom to follow, no wall to hold on to and usually after a few strokes, no bottom to rest on to catch a breath. Plus, most of the time you can’t see “what’s down there.” You have to go in with a mental attitude and confidence level that says, “I can do this, I’m a decent swimmer and I can always float if I need a break.” This is a good time to point out, No Swimming Alone! Ever!

I’ll point out some of the things you’ll want to know, and need to know before you get your toes wet.

The Body of Water

Is swimming allowed at the location you’re considering? Are there any hazards (currents, sink holes, debris, etc.) you need to know about? Some lakes, ponds or rivers may have a designated swim area that might not be large enough for getting those longer laps in. You’ll want to know if it’s legal to swim outside this area, as fines can be imposed for doing so. Ask other triathletes what the rules are. Chances are you’ll be meeting up with a group to swim right along with them.

Water Quality

Is the water regularly tested for swim quality? The last thing you want is a “bug” that shuts down your training schedule. The agency responsible for that location should have this data online or at least able to quickly find it for you. High amounts of rainfall over short periods of time can change a water’s quality quite quickly. Be aware of this and make alternate plans if necessary. Brown or muddy water is a good sign things have been stirred up lately.

Water Temperature

Your agency would usually have this information too. Will temperatures require you to don a wetsuit? Cold temperatures for one person may feel very comfortable for another. Most triathlon shops have a rental program or can direct you to someone who does. Just make sure the wetsuit is designed for swimming, not diving or wakeboarding. There really is a difference here.

You may get lucky and know someone who has an extra suit you can borrow, but we triathletes can be pretty hesitant about loaning our suits out. Outside of anything related to bike gear, it’s the next most expensive piece of race equipment we own, and it doesn’t take much to put a fingernail through it or split a seam. Most shops will rent for several days, and apply part of your rental fees toward a future purchase. If you find a suit that fits particularly well, and you want to rent it for an upcoming race, call them ahead of time and most shops will reserve it for you.

A product called Bodyglide will reduce chaffing in key spots like the underarms or around the neck of the suit. It will also make removing the suit easier if applied to wrists and ankles. Do NOT use any petroleum based products on your wetsuit, as they will destroy some types of neoprene. This includes Vaseline.

Safety and Comfort

It’s a good idea to wear the brightest (think day-glo, neon, tie-dye, etc.) swim cap you own or can buy. You will be much more visible for those on shore or in the water with you. Since you’ll be outdoors, have a pair of goggles that will cut down on bright sunlight, or glare and reflection off the water. I like a metalized or mirrored finish on those clear mornings when the sun is low and you’re swimming into the glare for that next buoy.

Planning Your Route

Just like any training session, your open water swim should have a purpose. How long will it be? What route or direction (out-and-back, circular around buoys, etc) will the group take? Will you be re-grouping at any point? Talk to the others and find out what the general plan is. If you are not comfortable going as far or as long as the others, make your intentions known. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone might swim at your pace or for your distance alongside you. If you get no takers to help you out, you’re swimming with the wrong group. Once you’re out on the route, if you decide to change your plan, it’s absolutely necessary that you tell someone in the group. Even better if you tell two people. Everyone should be aware of everyone else, and follow up to make sure you all get out of the water safely.

Suited Up and Getting Wet

At this point, the wetsuit might feel a little restrictive especially around the chest. Get in the water and take a little time to get used to the temperature. Let the water enter your wetsuit through the neck, wrists or legs. I do this by grabbing the sleeve at the wrist, pulling it opened and closed to pump the water up my arms. Same for the ankles. This gets a lubricating layer of water against your skin, and the water warms up to keep your body warmer. Once you’re completely wet inside the suit, you’ll notice how much more comfortable the suit feels, and at this point you can make adjustments in the elbows, armpits and knees.

Sighting and Navigating in Open Water

Since you now know what the intended course is, how are you going to get from Point-A to Point-B? From the water level, it can be quite difficult to see smaller buoys or floating objects also at water level. Your best bet is to sight off of a distinct feature on the horizon or landscape ahead of you that aligns with your intended target. This makes it easier to navigate while swimming, rather than having to stop, look for your target, then start again. This also allows you to just take a quick peek forward every so often to check your progress. With practice, you’ll be able to sight and still maintain a good rhythm while making slight course corrections.

Drafting Allowed

As you swim with your group, see what it feels like to get close to others, whether behind them or alongside. This is called drafting, and can save a fair amount of energy over a long swim. Let others draft off you, and have them tap your toes every once in awhile. The swim can sometimes be classified as a contact sport. In the case of a mass start, like an Ironman event with 2000+ competitors, it can almost be called a “combat” sport. This takes some getting used, but as with anything, practice makes the difference. Swimming in tight groups builds experience on what to look out for to avoid getting hurt.

Exiting The Water

Because you’ve been in a horizontal position for some time, you may feel dizzy when you first return to shore. This is more common than you might think, and it’s not a symptom of being a novice. Try to first stand when you are in chest-level water, as the water will support you while you “get your legs back” before exiting completely. Remember the water I talked about that acts as a lubricant inside your wetsuit? It also makes it much, much easier to get your wetsuit off. As you exit the water, peel it down to about waist level and pull your arms free. From there, you can stand on firm ground or lean against something to get your legs out. If you are going to step on the opposite leg of the suit while pulling your other leg out, do so very carefully.

Rinse and Repeat

Make sure you rinse out the wetsuit with fresh water as soon as possible, and always hang it to dry completely before folding and storing. I always turn mine inside out to dry, as the inner fabric tends to hold more moisture than the outer, smooth skin. Try not to fold your wetsuit any more than in half if storing for an extended period.

As you get more comfortable in open water and in your wetsuit, practice taking the wetsuit off as quickly as you can. This is good training for making a smooth transition from the swim to the bike. Before you know it, you won’t miss the smell of chlorine.

About The Author
Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
Share this article:

Training Plan for Road Cycling

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

I’m excited to have this opportunity to be part of the Bob’s Red Mill Train with Grain Family this road season.  I’ll let you on to a little secret though, I am not a pro bike racer or even a really great amateur one.  What I am is really enthusiastic – about my own racing, the races I put on, and most especially training and getting ready to race. I love the discipline of bike racing.

My season got off to a poor start.  We had a terrible winter and my pre-season training was not what it should have been – quite frankly I am a big wimp when it comes to suffering in cold, icy conditions.  To be fair, all the women I compete against were in the same boat, but for some reason I started the season further off the back than usual. Throw in loads of work travel and I fell far short in some of my early season goal races.

Compounding less than ideal winter training was the fact that I was coming off an injury that spooked me – a broken Orbit bone in my face and my second concussion in less than 4 months.  In those early season races, fear was definitely as much as a factor as being 4 pounds heavier than I wanted to be and the fact that I had fewer miles in my legs than I wanted. After a very disappointing result at the Sea Otter Classic in April I realized that I needed to regroup, re-evaluate my training and diet, my personal goals for the season and most importantly face some down some demons.

Here in Kentucky, where I live, the racing starts in March and the local racing dwindles to virtually none once June comes.  So, facing down an early season of disappointment, I needed to find some races to focus on later in the season.  Masters Road Nationals, held in Bend, OR, at the end of August, immediately leapt to mind.  It gives me time to dial in my fitness, get my diet back on track after too much time off the road, and some time to face my bike racing demons down.  I’ve raced Masters the last two years and have shown significant improvement from year to year.  Now I’m going to tell you something that I have only admitted out loud to a couple of close friends.  My biggest goal – stretch goal in the parlance of coaches far and wide – is a top 5 finish.  This is VERY ambitious especially on a road course that isn’t exactly suited to my strengths (but there are very few races that are dead flat with strong winds so I suppose I will have to deal with it…), and more realistically I am aiming for a top ten.  There, I’ve said it.  Now how do I get there?

A very wise coach, who is also a very good friend, has been advising me on my training.

He’s also been helping me get my head back into a healthy place.  A tall order!

First things first.  A blunt and honest evaluation of my current fitness. Happily, not as bad as it feels.  Check.  The base is good, the top end is lacking.  We can fix that.

Second – identify strengths and weaknesses. Time to become a more complete rider. Okay.  This bit is a little harder.  But essentially what it has meant is that instead of training all the things that I am good at (did I mention that when it comes to racing I like flat with a headwind?) I need to start focusing more on my weaknesses.  In my case, this blunt evaluation means I’m working on hills more, working on my cadence and developing my capacity to withstand repeated hard efforts instead of just doing my favorite long, steady TT-type rides.

It’s also meant working on my downhill skills.  I’m not a small girl compared to many of my fellow racers, I should be able to go downhill with the best of the them because gravity is my friend. But my head was a mess.  At the dread Sea Otter, I was climbing great, riding the flats powerfully.  What I couldn’t do was go down the dread Cork Screw.  It was embarrassing. The moto official came by me and told me to stop braking.  I wanted to tell him “DUH! If I could, I would.  But my fingers have assumed minds of their own, I am no longer in control of my digits…”  My friends at SRAM NRS took me in the car during the women’s pro race so I could watch them go down that hill, my nemesis, and see how they did it.  I got out of the car on the hill and watched my friend and fellow BRM Train w/ Grain blogger, Meredith Miller, drill it down that hill lap after lap.  How did she go SO FAST???

And Bend, OR?  Not flat.  I will need to be able to go up AND down.

So descend, descend.  Go through the mechanics of going downhill.  Weight in the outside pedal.  No braking through the turns.  Look ahead through the turn and see your exit.  Follow fast friends down hills, re-learn how to find the best lines.

The next step in the training plan?  Researching the course profile and the little race details that will make a difference. You’ve got to base your training on what you’re going to be asked to do in the race.  The road course in Bend is either climbing or descending.  Very little flat to be found.  Nothing steep. But a lot of 3-4%.  A steady power course, always power to the pedals.  Okay.  Now we know what we’re facing.  The TT course starts out with the big uphill, then descent down to flat lands.  A fair course that won’t really favor one type of rider over another.  But I’ve got to be able to go downhill.

Devil’s in the details, right? Time to work backwards from the end of August.  Every week needs to include training designed to help me on race day.  Every week also needs to include rest.  A season that started in March with a very late season goal in August means making sure I rest and don’t get burned out too soon.  It means tailoring specific workouts for this race.  While all my friends and teammates might only have 35-minute crits on their calendars for the rest of summer – I’ve got to keep doing workouts that will get me through a long, hilly road race.  And I need to find races between now and then that aren’t crits.  I will be logging lots of time in the car this summer to find some road races that is for sure!

Last but not least: diet and hydration are key.  With all the traveling I’ve done for work, my diet hasn’t been great.  Airport Starbucks is not a food group – yet.  So now, time to get back to healthy eating.  Planned meals.  I’m not much of a meat eater – getting enough protein in my diet has always been a problem.   In fact if I could, I would pretty much exist on fruit, vegetables and oatmeal cookies.  Not exactly the menu of champions.  Happily my friends at Bob’s Red Mill are stocking my kitchen with lots of goodness to give me the fuel I need to compete.  Quinoa to go with veggies of all varieties.  Morning oatmeal or granolas (for those super hot days), 7 Grain Pancakes with real Vermont Maple Syrup, and of course Salted Cherry Oatmeal cookies (enhanced with hemp protein so they’re healthy I swear!!).  Turns out that eating a well balanced diet isn’t that hard after all when you’ve got the right ingredients…

About The Author
Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
Share this article:

Train with Grain Summer 2011

by Cassidy Stockton in Cycling, Featured Articles

Train with Grain is designed to help fuel the workouts and boost the training efforts of dedicated athletes everywhere. The idea: create a well-fueled community where athletes of every level can share and learn and grow together.

It kicked off last year with Cyclocross, and this year we’re eagerly expanding into road racing and triathlons, two other sports that demand great nutrition and long-lasting energy.

Participants receive an awesome training kit, packed with a delicious variety of whole grains – including Honey Oat Granola, 10 Grain Hot Cereal, Quinoa and 7 Grain Pancake Mix – as well as their choice of a sweet cycling cap or running hat (plus a few other goodies). We’re including recipes and photos for how to use these products, so anyone can easily start making training-friendly food at home.

This year we’re also bringing in a handful of contributors to share their training experiences and war stories on our blog along the way. This team of road warriors and triathletes comes with varying years of experience, and is well prepared to talk about everything from biomechanics and hydration to etiquette and training schedules. Count on video diaries, horrific injury stories, tips on how not to get divorced while training, and a short film on leg-shaving techniques for men. They come from all over the country, and can offer perspectives on what it’s like to train and race in a variety of climates.

This crew will also provide cooking demos, meal plans and “night before” recipes based on the grains in your kit.

It should be a lot of fun.

We’ve also created a slick and ultra-user-friendly dashboard where you can login, choose your races, upload photos, and interact with everyone else. It’s connected through Facebook, so you can post every victory directly to your wall and encourage friendly competition (read: taunt) everyone you know.

It’s going to be awesome.

If you want to find out more, join the Train with Grain community right now. We’d love to have you on the team.

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
“Dog Hill” in Cherokee Park - where the ride really starts....

Best Training Spots

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

It’s a common problem for road cyclists: Where on earth can we safely ride our bikes and get in good training?  Stories of driver rage against cyclists appear all too frequently in the news these days.

Happily in Louisville we are very fortunate.  We’ve got a beautiful parks system (did you know that Louisville is known as the City of Parks?), including some designed by famed landscape architect F.L. Olmstead, as well as reasonably easy access to beautiful roads through rolling hills, bluegrass and horse farms, all within an easy pedal out of the city.

(Top right: “Dog Hill” in Cherokee Park – where the ride really starts….)

Personally, my favorite route features all of the above.  Local racers play theme and variations with these roads to get great riding in a beautiful and challenging setting.

Leaving my apartment I am a mere 4 minutes to one the Louisville’s Olmstead gems: Cherokee Park.  After getting a nice warm-up through the park it’s a quick trip down Indian Hill Trails, featuring a quick swoopy descent that frequently sees some country club deer making guest appearances right on down to River Road.  River Road, beautiful by itself or as a gateway to my favorite roads toward the east, zooms along the banks of the Ohio and, even though it’s dead flat, can feature awesome tail winds and fearsome headwinds depending on your luck.  Out through towards Prospect, you are sure to see cyclists following this route as part of their IronMan Louisville training plan.

(Indian Hill Trail)

Then it’s a quick hop along to the adrenaline-pumping Route 42 (Frogger anyone? blip, blip….) until you turn left onto Rose Island Road.  I always have to sit up a little as we roll past Henry’s Ark – a weird little zoo where you can spot Emu, deer, geese, ducks, zebras and …is that a Dromedary??  As you ride along, the road gets a little more rolling, with short little power bursts and roads that narrow down until they remind me of Belgian farm roads.  At the end of Rose Island Road you’ll find yourself climbing up Goshen.  Now let’s be honest – this is not the Alps.  But it’s a three-stair-step climb that always makes me thankful for the 26 on my SRAM cassette.

At the top of Goshen we’re back on 42 and the roads are wide open – a little traffic-y but not terrible – and we’re headed out into some beautiful horse farmland.  Turn right on to 1694 and the IronMan course and there is a gorgeous Thoroughbred farm and I am always slowing down to look for long-legged babies.  Then comes my favorite descent in the area – great pavement, swoopy good fun.  Climb up, turn onto Covered Bridge Road, turn onto Sleepy Hollow and mentally you are at the halfway point.  Speed down Sleepy Hollow – it’s so gorgeous.  Lots of falling water, creeks, waterfalls.  Climb up and there you are at the community of Norton Commons and my favorite pit stop at the gelato joint – not for ice cream, I would die!! – but for a delicious, cold, refreshing Goose Island Rootbeer.  Not to be missed on a hot day!   From there it really is the home stretch – the up and down Wolf Pen Branch – and I am counting down the number of hills left before I am home, all the way back to the flat, fast River Road and back on home.

(Thoroughbred farm on 1694)

About The Author
Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
Share this article:
Doug Carr

Example Training Schedule: Training Phase Dependent

by Doug Carr in Train With Grain, Triathlons

My training schedule has been a dynamically evolving organism in the past two years. My love of triathlon regarding training, competing and coaching has been fighting with my love of running, specifically endurance running or marathons. Because I can still choose to run in the winter, my focus in the early season is to knockout one marathon a month for April, May and June. During the winter I participate, and then coach, an indoor cycling class for athletes of all abilities. This keeps me on the bike instead of the couch. Since the pool is always open, swimming is available so my gills don’t dry out. With that in mind, and a goal race looming in the late spring, winter run training keeps my running base stable while two indoor bike workouts keep things sharper than choosing to be out riding in the rain with automobiles. All three sports keep my cross-training level up and reduces my incidence of acute or nagging injuries.

I’m excited to be competing in two new triathlon events coming to Portland this year, both of them 70.3 (miles) Half-Iron (H.I.M.) distance races. Blending the last marathon this Sunday the 19th, into the triathlon training schedule for a H.I.M. in three weeks, involves a bit of juggling, but basically my weekly schedule starts to look more intensely and exclusively triathlon based. I follow a Three-Week-On/One-Week-Off monthly schedule to build and vary Intensity and duration.

Monday: Resistance and Core Training

Tuesday: Swim Drills w/Upper Zone Focus and Run Day (tempo). Distance and Time dependent on Training Plan phase.

Wednesday: Bike Intervals on Road

Thursday: Swim Distance and Easy Run

Friday: Active Recovery Day, Stretching or Short Easy Ride

Saturday: Long Bike on Course-Similar Terrain. Distance and Time dependent on Training Plan phase.

Sunday: Long Run w/Aerobic Threshold Focus.

I’m also excited to be contributing as a part of the BRM-TWG team and helping to further elevate the awareness of correct nutrition in training and competing. Correct nutrition is a year-round event.

About The Author
Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
Share this article:
Practicing barriers will make race-day easier.

Training Tips: Barriers and Dismounts

by Maureen Bruno Roy in Cyclocross, Train With Grain

Practicing barriers will make race-day easier.

Some ways to improve skills and fitness include talking with other local riders to see if there is an organized weekly skills practice or practice race.  Coaching is also a great way to get more one on one experience. Ask around for a coaching referral to find someone qualified that seems like a good personality fit. A coach will be able to give you specific drills to practice barrier mounts and dismounts, transitions, technique and improving overall fitness.


I’m likely to be the “doing it wrong but getting away with it” kind of racer, so I’m not sure that my technical advice is spot on but here are a few tips for some of the most common cyclocross skills:

Running barriers: Practice with low barriers at first and slowly build up to the race height of 40cm. Try various ways to lift your bike-often you will need to angle the bike out rather than straight up if you are not tall. Practice putting the bike back on the ground gently to avoid dropping the chain.

Dismounts/mounts: Great to practice with the barriers or without. I do not put my right leg between the bike and my left leg-sounds like a recipe for disaster for me, but each person had their own preference. Make sure your cleats are not too tight or too loose so that you can free your feet easily bit not accidentally. When remounting-practice in slow motion several times. Try placing your inner right leg/thigh on the saddle first and slide onto the seat rather than leaping onto your pubic bone.

Check back for more tips from Maureen tomorrow!

About The Author
Maureen Bruno Roy Google: Maureen Bruno Roy
Share this article:
Bike Racing

Finding a Good Practice Spot

by Maureen Bruno Roy in Cyclocross, Train With Grain

I personally had a coach 5 years ago for one season and although I was not ready to continue with a structured coaching plan in the years that followed, I took the knowledge and experience from that time and was able to guide myself for the next several seasons.  I often ask other elite riders about their training plans and for helpful hints and suggested workouts to improve any areas I may struggle with. This past Spring I started working with a new coach, finally feeling ready for some new guidance with my training.

When I first started racing cross, I found a nearby playground to practice in.  I live in the Metro Boston area, which is about 6 miles from the city and about another 6 miles in the other direction to the real suburbs.  There are limited parks that will allow cross practice and lots of dogs to be careful of.  The best thing to do is go on “exploring rides” on your easy days and scope out local grassy areas, wooded trails and alternatives like corporate parks. You may need to try various times of the day if your schedule is flexible and see when the areas are mostly empty for your use.

About The Author
Maureen Bruno Roy Google: Maureen Bruno Roy
Share this article: